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I'm looking into deploying a small (one or two host servers) non-production virtualization initiative for our company. We need it to be high performance and host shared resources for a number of users. I'm moderately familiar with both VMWare ESXi and Citrix XenServer, and know that we would be happy with either. Where I'm hitting a snag is the administration side.

From everything I'm reading, neither product currently supports any OS other than MS Windows for using their remote admin tools. Our company has been running quite happily for over a decade without deploying any Windows machines, and this does not seem like a. Good enough reason to start now. Even with some janky workaround in place to allow some degree of administration from a Linux or OS X machine, every solution I have found requires Windows for at least one component or one step in the process. I don't want to set up a Windows VM or partition just for this purpose. This would be a major expense to introduce an unwanted element into our environment, and I would very much like to avoid it.

Do I have any options for this? I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for Citrix or VMWare to get around to supporting other operating systems, so I'm pretty open to any alternatives. Do I need to roll my own solution here, and just forego the advantages of having a hypervisor OS with remote administration tools? Or is there some way of managing these systems with third-party tools that I'm not yet aware of? Any insight would be a big help.

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I suspect you have to give up on esxi/xenserver, but not Xen. Something like Ganeti may give you some of what you want. – Zoredache Jun 12 '12 at 18:00
Buying a single Windows license is a "major expense"? – mfinni Jun 12 '12 at 19:28
license is not the only expense. why do you assume windows expertise exists in this shop at all? – dyasny Jun 12 '12 at 19:31
Sounds a bit religious, to be honest. VMWare and Xenserver really want a Windows administration platform. Even Red Hat's RHEV product needs a Windows client. I understand that you've not had to use Windows up until this point, but that's where the mainstream target is (from the vendor perspective). – ewwhite Jun 12 '12 at 19:52
@ewwhite RHEV was using .net code because of the origins of the management part. That is almost gone now, and will be completely gone by the next release. – dyasny Jun 12 '12 at 20:22
up vote 6 down vote accepted

With vSphere 5, there is a vCenter Virtual Appliance, so you can have the management of vCenter without a Windows server. There is also a web-based configuration option, which can be used instead of the vSphere Client.

Neither option is feature-complete when compared to the Windows versions, but it may do everything that you need it to on a one/two host environment. Or, maybe you can get away with a single Windows workstation/VM for advanced config.

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This looks very promising. The odd thing is that the documented workflow for deploying the appliance (unless I'm reading it wrong) requires you to already have a working Windows client in place before you can deploy the server. So far this seems like the closest option, but it still seems like an imperfect solution. – cmckendry Jun 13 '12 at 17:35
You need to be able to import the appliance initially, which does require windows. If you can't even borrow a windows box for half a day, you're best off using KVM+libvirt stuff. – MDMarra Jun 13 '12 at 17:38
I think you can import the appliance via CLI. All you really need is KVM over ethernet (DRAC, iLO, etc) and you should be able to do everything you need to do via CLI. – Uninspired Jul 27 '12 at 5:06

ganeti + kvm has worked nicely for us.

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If you're looking for a recommendation, I've been quite happy with Debian Squeeze + Xen and the cli tools for management. I haven't found anything I couldn't do. Even live migration of dumU's between dom0's works from the command line.

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Take a look at oVirt - web GUI that works in FF or Chrome, all of the nice enterprisey features

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Try Proxmox VE. It has both KVM and OpenVZ support and the management is entirely through webconsole.

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have you tried openvz? In fact don't allow virtualize windows, and there are a couple of good free administration tools

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Did you take a look at the OpenStack and OpenShift options??

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